Steam Irons Problems: 7 Common Problems (with solutions)

Ironing clothes is a chore that most people despise.

One of those tasks that you just want to get over with.

However, ironing has advantages because it not only removes wrinkles and shrinkage from the cloth material but also makes it look fresher than before.

Steam irons, like any other appliance, will eventually have problems.

In this article, we’ll help answer the most common problems with Steam Irons

7 Common Problems with Steam Irons

The most common reason for Steam Iron not working is that it has not been turned on or plugged in, mineral build-up that causes the residue to build on the soleplate and prevents steam from coming out of the vents. 

Based on our research on experience, below are the most common problems with steam Irons and solutions

Ready, let’s jump in!

Mineral Build Up

This is one of the most common problems with steam irons and may shorten their useful life.

What happens is that the water you put in it can be hard and contain minerals that can deposit in the iron’s vents and lines.

If these prevent the steam from the iron from venting, the result could be dripping.

To avoid this, only use distilled or filtered water and empty the water tank after use.

To remove the build-up, use a commercial cleaner designed to remove calcium or lime.


Spotting is another common steam iron issue that you can address.

If your steam iron is overfilled, it will emit a stream of water from the ports that allow you to use the appliance.

Water stains on clothing from dripping or falling water can be unsightly.

To avoid this problem, avoid filling the iron all the way to the top and leave some space.

Stop before you reach the recommended maximum level.

Iron Not Turning on or Heating

You may have also encountered the problem of the steam iron, not heating.

This is yet another common steam iron issue.

To determine the source of this problem, first, ensure that the power cord is properly connected and turned on.

If you haven’t used your steam iron in a few minutes, it may have shut down automatically. Press the on/off button to use it again.

Next, inspect the power cord and the thermostat.

Adjust the thermostat and recheck the dial is set to heat setting.

If still not heating up check out this article that walks through steps in identifying and resolving Iron not turning on or heating up.

Lastly, contact a professional electrician or go out and purchase a new iron.

Dirty Soleplate

Many people have also had the experience of steam iron sticking to the fabric.

In this case, the problem is likely to be with the soleplate.

The first step is to thoroughly clean the soleplate by using a household cleaning paste.

To make a cleaning paste, simply combine baking soda and a small amount of water.

Then, using a soft brush or towel, scrub this paste onto the iron’s soleplate. Simply wipe it away with water.

If the problem persists, the soleplate may be faulty, and you will need to replace it or just buy a new steam iron.

Water flows from the holes on the Soleplate

Limescale build-up on the soleplate might make water and burned limescale flow out of the holes on the bottom.

You could try descaling your iron to solve the problem.

Most steam irons now have self-cleaning or ‘anti-calc’ systems; use these according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

If your steam iron does not have a self-cleaning function that’s okay as you can easily clean it using white vinegar.

Pour half a cup of distilled white vinegar and half a cup of distilled water into the iron.

Inspect the steam vents for white residue or other buildup and clean them with a toothpick or toothbrush dipped in vinegar. Connect the iron, set it to steam, and wait about five minutes.

Clogged Steam in Iron Vents

Another common problem is when steam refuses to come out of the Iron vents.

This again is caused by mineral build-up caused by using tap water.

To solve this problem, use a cotton bud dipped in a water and vinegar solution to clear clogged steam vents.

When you’re done ironing, always remove extra water from the chamber to help avoid the buildup of limescale deposits in the iron.

To avoid this, only use distilled or filtered water and empty the water tank after use.

Dirt coming out of the Soleplate

If you find dirt coming out of the soleplate of the Iron, this is either dirty water in the tank or a build-up of minerals.

Empty the tank and try descaling your iron to solve the problem.

5 Signs your Iron needs Descaling

Below are 5 signs that your Iron needs descaling 

  • Does the iron glide or simply drag?
  • Does the iron leave stains and traces behind?
  • Is your recently washed clothing getting limescale or chalky white mineral deposits from your iron?
  • Is there residue on your iron soleplate that appears to be melted?
  • Steam is not coming out of Soleplate


Nowadays, most steam irons come equipped with self-cleaning, or “anti-calc” systems; use these frequently while adhering to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Alternately, fill the water reservoir with a third of equal parts water and white vinegar.

To get all the vinegar to evaporate, turn the heat to medium and let it steam for five to ten minutes.

After that, add fresh water to the chamber and restart the iron to remove any remaining vinegar and mineral deposits.

Use a paper towel to clean the steam vents and iron base.

As not all manufacturers advise using vinegar, be sure to first check the manufacturer’s instructions.

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